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SPORTS TODAY

Sabatini's woes continue with ouster from tourney

The hard times continue for Gabriela Sabatini.

The seventh-ranked Sabatini, who has had a history in recent years of stumbling when she should be soaring, lost her second-round match to relatively-unknown Lea Ghiradi of France, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, at the $806,250 Family Circle tennis tournament at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Sabatini, who has had a mild case of the flu since last Friday, had three match points in the second set. But she soon faltered on the unfamiliar clay courts against the 135th-ranked Ghirardi, a qualifier.

"It's a little hard to come from the hard courts," Sabatini said. "It was really hard because she wasn't missing and she was throwing those high balls. It was hard to finish the points."

Last week, on hard courts at The Lipton Championships, Sabatini led Kimiko Date, 6-1, 5-1, and also squandered three match points before the Japanese player won the quarterfinal match, 1-6, 7-6, 7-6.

"It's better to be casual about these losses than make a big deal about them," said Juan Nunez, Sabatini's coach. "I think these matches will help her realize that being tentative (on-court) isn't the way to go."

Despite battling with a nasty case of the flu, top-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario labored through a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over 64th-ranked Ruxandra Dragomir of Romania.

"It was a wake-up call," Sanchez Vicario said of her first set loss. "It took me a little while to get into the match."

America3 on the brink; Conner's fate is uncertain

America3 was pushed within one race of elimination from the America's Cup, and an international jury was to decide whether Dennis Conner could sail on in the regatta.

Kevin Mahaney's Young America, which has clinched the first spot in the Citizen Cup defender finals, won by 1:11 over America3's Mighty Mary, which is sailed by 15 women and tactician Dave Dellenbaugh.

That kept Conner's Stars & Stripes ahead of Mighty Mary, 3-2, with three racing days left. Mighty Mary's only remaining race is against Stars & Stripes on Friday. But Conner could lock up the finals spot with a victory over Young America today, which would put him two points ahead of Mighty Mary.

On shore, America3 officials raised several questions about Conner, a three-time America's Cup winner, being allowed to change his damaged keel in the middle of the semifinals.

America3 was granted a hearing Wednesday evening before the international jury, which had been denied them on Tuesday by the San Diego Yacht Club's defense committee.

If the jury sides with America3, the changes to Conner's boat could be declared illegal and he could be disqualified from the regatta.

Due to keel and hull damage, Stars & Stripes took on water and had to drop out of Sunday's race with Young America.

Normally, appendages cannot be replaced during a round. But Conner received permission from the defense committee to replace the damaged keel, as long he followed International America's Cup Class rules requiring the replacement keel and the new keel to be similar.

Maine gets the chance to put misfortune on ice

Last season, the University of Maine lost seven of its best players to the Olympics and didn't even make the NCAA Tournament. What a difference one year makes.

Today, Maine is 30-5-6 and in the Final Four. Maine was to face Michigan (29-7-1), the nation's highest-scoring team, at 1 p.m. (ESPN) for a berth in Saturday's title game.

Boston University (29-6-3), which lost last year's championship game to Lake Superior State, takes on Minnesota (25-13-5) in the other semifinal (8:30 p.m., ESPN 2).

Maine coach Shawn Walsh says he and his players don't think much about last season's misfortunes.

"The media wants to keep talking about that," he said. "I just say, 'JFK died. Tell me new news.' We're worried about right now."

Shabby shape of tracks in New York lamented

The state's thoroughbred race tracks are so shabby they're in danger of losing top horses and riders to tracks in other states, according to a published report.

"There's so much we need to do to keep up the appearance of a decent place if we're going to attract better horses and more people," said New York State Racing Association President Kenny Noe told New York Newsday.

Officials at the not-for-profit NYRA told the paper it wants the state to help raise $20 million to repair grandstands, barns and dormitories at its tracks: Aqueduct in Queens, Belmont in Nassau and upstate Saratoga.

The NYRA estimates that thoroughbred racing generated $57 million in taxes and provided 20,000 jobs during the 1993-94 fiscal year.

Around & About

Chip Genassi Racing entered cars for Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta and rookie Michael Greenfield for the Indianapolis 500, bringing the number of entries for the May 28 race to 61. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway said it expected at least 90 entries by Friday's midnight deadline. . . . John Greene bowled the first 800 in the 40-year history of the Travelers League at Mil-Sher. A right-hander who is averaging 214 in league, Greene had games of 279, 277 and 251 in an 807 series. Also at Mil-Sher in the Major B League, Paul Gallmeyer, and Mike Branham rolled their first sanctioned 300 games. Gallmeyer averages 203 and Branham 205. . . . Chris Langdale scored the go-ahead goal 7:19 into the fourth quarter as Cornell (2-3) came back from a four-goal deficit to defeat visiting Delaware (3-4), 16-14, in college lacrosse. . . . Brown University discriminates against female athletes because far fewer women than men participate in college sports, a judge ruled in a decision that could force schools nationwide to revamp athletic programs. U.S. District Judge Raymond Pettine gave Brown 120 days to come up with a plan to comply with a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools that receive federal money.
TRANSACTIONS
BASEBALL
American League
CLEVELAND--Traded IF Edgar Diaz to Toronto for future considerations.

FOOTBALL
National Football League
MIAMI--Traded TE Keith Jackson and a 1995 fourth-round draft pick to the Green Bay Packers for a 1995 second-round draft pick.

LA RAMS--Announced they matched an offer sheet for WR Jessie Hester from Seattle. Signed TE Yonnie Jackson.

NEW ENGLAND--Re-signed DE Aaron Jones.

SAN FRANCISCO--Signed DE Junior Bryant and OT Kirk Scrafford.
HOCKEY
National Hockey League
BOSTON--Recalled G John Blue from Providence of the AHL.

BUFFALO--Reassigned RW Mike Bavis from Rochester of the AHL to South Carolina of the ECHL. Returned RW Scott Thomas to Rochester of the AHL.

QUEBEC--Recalled G Garth Snow from Cornwall of the AHL.

VANCOUVER--Agreed with D Dave Babych on contract extension.

ON AIR
Television
COLLEGE HOCKEY: NCAA Tournament semifinals, Maine vs. Michigan, 1 p.m., ESPN; Boston University vs. Minnesota, 8:30 p.m., ESPN 2.

GOLF: Senior PGA, The Tradition, first round, 4 p.m., ESPN.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Golden State Warriors, 8 P.M., WTBS.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres, 7:30 p.m., Empire.

TENNIS: Family Circle Cup, early-round matches, 11 a.m., ESPN; Davis Cup Quarterfinal: United States vs. Italy, singles match, 4 a.m., ESPN2.
Radio
NHL: Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres, 7:30 p.m., 550, 1330.

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